Denver, CO, July 9, 2014 — In an effort to dispel erroneous information about the proposed Waters of the US (WOTUS) rule and false perceptions that Washington, DC lobby groups speak for all farmers on the rule, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) is launching the “They Don’t Speak For Me” campaign today, by running advertisements in several Colorado newspapers.
The goal of the campaign is to make it clear that many farmers and ranchers in Colorado support the new common-sense protections for clean water as proposed by the EPA.
“It is critical that both Colorado senators and leadership at the USDA and EPA understand that ranchers and farmers need clean water to sustain our living, and appreciate balanced water policy. We believe the new rule targets both,” said RMFU’s Bill Midcap.
The half-page ads will run today 7/9 in the Pueblo Chieftain and Thursday 7/10 in the Aurora Sentinel.
To spotlight the broad agricultural support that the clean water rule enjoys, in the coming weeks RMFU will release a video of ranchers and farmers underscoring the importance of clean water and the new rule to their operations. It will include a list of farmers and ranchers available to talk with reporters about the new rule’s importance, based on their personal experiences.
The proposed Waters of the US rule targets ambiguities in the current Clean Water Act, such as the definition of “navigable waters,” that many agricultural producers have found arbitrary and confusing. The new rule also includes existing exemptions for agriculture, such as the use of ditches for irrigating crops.
By clarifying that seasonal and rain-dependent streams, rivers and wetlands that feed into downstream water are protected, there is a significantly less chance that toxic waste will wind up in the water we drink.
The Clean Water Act was passed in 1972 to address water pollution issues, when a majority of U.S. waterways were too toxic for fishing, swimming or drinking. (Currently, one-third of U.S. waters are too toxic for fishing, swimming or drinking.) In 2001 and 2006 Supreme Court decisions limited the Clean Water Act to just waters deemed “navigable.”
The new rule would protect headwater streams and wetlands that feed directly into drinking-water resources. About 60 percent of stream miles in the U.S. only flow seasonally or after rain, but have a considerable impact on the downstream waters. And approximately 117 million people – one in three Americans – get drinking water from public systems that rely in part on these streams. Without the clarifications, these waters have been vulnerable to pollution and contamination.